After conversating with Vincent from DREVO about the opportunity to review one of their products, I have finally received their DREVO Gramr RGB with Outemu Red Switches.
In this review we are gonna take a closer look on the Gramr in order to see if this keyboard is worth the money and if it could be a good starting point for people who are moving their first steps in the tenkeyless (60%, 75% and more) and mech scenario.
INTRODUCTION: why would i use a Tenkeyless (TKL) Keyboard?
In my case, that’s because i use the keyboard in the opposite direction. The keyboard is supposed to be used in horizontal direction while I use it vertically. In a similar situation, if you had a full-siuize keyboard you could probably not have free space on your desk (now making an exception speaking of my desk which is pretty big). Another reason is that i do not like full-size keyboard anymore: i like tenkeyless (60%/75% and so on) both ahestetically and for daily use. Here’s an example on how I use my keyboard.
- 84 Keys
- Outemu Red Switches, actuation force 50g
- RGB Lightning
- ABS Double Shot Keycaps
- ANSI Layout (US)
- 6KRO and 24KRO (NKRO) support
- Detachable Type-C cable
Packaging is nothing special: a simple carton package that contains the Keyboard, the Type-C cable, a Keycaps removal tool, some instruction manuals and a cool sticker with Drevo logo printed on. Plus, DREVO provides a little paper in which they ask customers to write their opinion about their products: this is a clear sign that DREVO really cares about their customers’ experience.
BUILD QUALITY AND MATERIALS
The Gramr is mostly built with plastic, but it’s still a solid product to the touch. If i have to be very finicky, i would say that the external case, the part which you actually touch on the sides of the keyboard (the one that should be inserted from above) is a bit thinner than expected. I would probably have made the case a bit more robust. Everything else on the shell feels robust, moreover if we speak about the backside of the keyboard. Switches are soldered on an aluminium layer, which is located just above the PCB. IN the end, we have a cheap keyboard that was designed to serve people that are new in the mech world, and not to serve someone who’s already a veteran in custom mech scenario and could be much more critical about little details.
In the backside of the shell, we have two retractile feets that are actually good. I have used the keyboard for some days and i’ve never experienced issues. I’ve tried using the keyboard with and without feets and i prefer using them as a bit more height helps with comfort, at least in my case.
Feets are not slippery but they’re white and rubberized (on my white version), so i’m aware they’re gonna get dirty. Time will tell if they’re gonna keep their superb grip in the long run.
Cable is braided that could be liked or not. I like braided cables on keyboards while i hate it when it comes to mice. In this case, cable ends with a Type-C connector which is detachable from the keyboard: if you break the cable, you could replace it just by buying a simple Type-C USB cable as a replacement. This is a smart choice from DREVO, which goes in the right direction leaving their customers the chance of replacing the cable if it’s too short or too long based on personal preferences and needs.
SWITCH AND KEYCAPS
Now the most interesting part.
As for the switches, i have to make a premise: after trying many keyboards and switches, i’ve found my ideal switches, which are Cherry MX Brown and Gateron Red. This premise was needed even because i’m gonna speak about personal experience with these switches and having a sort of “reference” could be useful for who reads.
Switches are Outemu Red ones, known for being a sort of cheap clone of the more popular Cherry MX switches. Outemu feel obviously cheaper, and this is something that people who already have more expensive keyboard with better switches will feel.
In my case, Outemu Red are not that bad: Gateron Red are sure better, with a more solid secure feeling, while Otemu seem like a more “shy” version of the Gateron ones. They’re not actually bad at the point to throw them away, in fact i’m still using the Gramr as daily driver and now i do not feel the difference anymore. The initial impression is, however, the one i have just described, but it’s safe to say it’s hard to find 75% TKL keyboards with Gateron Red switches at this price, as they cost more compared to the Gramr. Switches in this case have a very low declared actuation force: click is good to the touch and they’re responsive during in-game sessions. They’re certainly not the most suitable for writing, at least in my case, as I prefer a more “clicky” feedback while writing, something that Red switches do not, naturally, have.
Speaking about noise, switches aren’t certainly silent, but you can find worse products in this sense. Just for your info, you can buy some cheap o-rings packs in order to tame switch noise, which are really easy to install (they have to be inserted in the keycaps after removing each one). I do not need o-rings in my case as the noise isn’t so loud and it’s something that does not bother me.
This video gives you an idea of the noise:
Switches do their job without particular issues, but i’m gonna update this review in the future if i’ll come across any kind of problem.
If i have to compare the switches i would say that Outemu Red are a bit more reactive compared to Logitech’s Romer-G, while being more noisy. If compared with Cherry MX Brown, Cherry ones are a tad less responsive during gaming session, but way better when it comes to typing, being less noisy as well. I cannot compare with Outemu Brown as i’ve never tried them, but if they’re Cherry Brown clones, the comparison with Cherry Brown could be very similar.
Speaking about the Keycaps, they’re identical to the ones featured on the MagicForce 68, except DX Shift which is a bit smaller. The font used on the Keycaps is not that bad, however, i understand that many could not like it: many products are sold with these kind of “gaming” fonts because mainstream market wants this.
Keycaps are double-shot, great news for people who have experienced the common “fade” problem of non double-shot Keycaps. Double-shots are, for people that do not know, Keycaps designed in a way that every keycap has 2 layers: the external layer of the Keycap is the part that is in direct contact with fingers, while the internal layer is located inside the keycaps, and it’s obvious to say that double-shot Keycaps are good because the font is printed on the internal layer, so you cannot touch it with your fingers and it won’t fade. Layout is obviously ANSI, so if you’re following me from Italy and you’re searching for italian layout, it’s safe to say you should look elsewhere for other products from DREVO (maybe the Tyrfing for example).
One thing i have to say is that Keycaps aren’t the most stable out there and tend to “dance” a little bit on the switch. This is something that DREVO really needs to fix in this interesting keyboard.
Down below a pic with the double-shot switch + photo of the Keycaps removal tool included.
LIGHTNING AND FUNCTIONALITY
Lightning is RGB in my case: every row has its unique color which cannot be changed, and you cannot change the color of a single key. There are many lightning options (stable RGB, breathing RGB, click RGB, in which keys light up just if pressed, and so on) which are easily selectable pressing FN + another KEY listed on the instruction manual, Amazon product page and on their official website.
There’s an option for locking the keyboard and you can even customize your lightning layout pressing FN+2: for example I have decided that pressing FN+2 just lights up the keys which I use in-game (WASD, R, F, Z, X and so on) while every other key remains dark.
DREVO offers the Gramr at a good street price in a highly competitive price bracket. If we take a look in the mechanical keyboard scenario, the Gramr is one of the very few keyboards that feature a 75% TKL design with RGB lightning, multiple switch choice and a good build quality, being ahestetically similar to custom compact keyboards. It’s safe to say that Gramr is a solid product with a very common PCB and a good shell, being perfect for people who like customizing keyboards replacing keycaps or switches and have a custom keyboard for a low price. Certainly, the Gramr is an entry-level keyboard, but offers everyone the chance of moving the first steps in the mechanical keyboards’ world, even featuring upgrade possibilities, at a very aggressive (but good) price for the experience that the keyboard itself could provide.
Obviously, if you have a little more money, going for the DREVO Excalibur could be a better choice for the long terms, featuring better switches and a better build quality, but for people on a budget the Gramr will be a good starting point, moreover if you’re searching for something compact to introduce yourselves in the mech scenario.
Thanks DREVO (particularly Vincent) for the test sample.